Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

Patronal Festival - Feast of St Matthew (with St Chad)

19 Sep 2021, midnight

Readings: Jeremiah 11v18-20; Psalm 54; James 3v13 to 4v3 &7-8a; Mark 9v30-37

Let us pray: May the words I speak and the thoughts we ponder be acceptable to you, Lord God. Amen

A Word from Lucy: Last week we were reminded that the words we use, whether deliberate or unintentional, have the power to hurt or heal others, as well as to underpin the actions we take. Last week we were warned that our words and deeds come from the thoughts we have and, in combination, our thoughts, words and deeds form who we are and what our eternal destiny will be, whether that be for good or for bad. Last week we were also encouraged to stop and think about what we do and say; as well as to reflect daily on how we have got on. For all of us are on a journey from being sinners without hope, to sinners who are sorry and repentant, to sinners who are saved and made righteous by the cross of Jesus. A journey that God can help us with, through: prayer, bible study and the gift of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

As I read this week’s appointed readings, I heard, in the psalm, the desperate prayer of those hounded by evil people. In the prophecy of Jeremiah, I found myself face-to-face with God’s warning that evil corrupts humankind; and drives us into all sorts of wickedness and evil; for which we will be judged. It also warned that we are a devious lot, who plot and plan the downfall of others, including the downfall of the Lamb of God who was soon to come into the world to carry away sin, so sinners can be counted as righteous. Then, in the gospel, I heard Jesus preparing his disciples for Jeremiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled. But, instead of the disciples seeing the bigger picture and God’s saving grace for the whole of humanity; the disciples’ thoughts were on their own self-importance, as they vied and jockeyed with one another about their place, power and position in the new age to come. It was of no surprise that in the light of this that Jesus stopped what he was teaching them about in order to knock them into shape by telling them that those who want to be great and first in His kingdom, will be those who are last in the world and servants of all – people just like little children. I expect that James understood what Jesus meant because he eventually went on to write his letter in which he explains the difference between lives that are good, in comparison to those that are evil. And, in order to help us, James instructs us to resist the devil, by submitting ourselves to God, for when we draw near to God, God draws close to us, and the devil runs away.

Today on the occasion of our Patronal Festival, on the Feast Day for St Matthew, I am mindful that St Matthew set us a good example to follow. For, when he was called by Jesus, he left the life he was living behind and took up a new and reformed life with Christ. Today we also remember our other patron Saint, St Chad who as a man of God read St Matthew’s gospel and worked hard to build the Church. Today, it is our turn to learn about, understand and share the good news of Jesus with that those God sends to us. I hope and pray we shall follow obediently like St Matthew and with humility and prayerfulness like St Chad.

Let us pray: Day by day, dear Lord, of you 3 things we pray: To see you more clearly, to love you more dearly and to follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen

Lords’ prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

The Grace: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and evermore. AMEN

Thank you for joining us today.